Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Seattle Field Set for NCAA Tournament

The University of Washington and Bank of America Arena at Hec Edmundson Pavilion will be playing host to one of 16 subregionals during the first weekend of the NCAA Women's Tournament. The four teams coming to Seattle, as revealed during yesterday's selection show, are:

  • No. 4 seed Pittsburgh
  • No. 5 seed Xavier
  • No. 12 seed Gonzaga
  • No. 13 seed Montana
Pitt takes on Montana in the early matchup at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, with Xavier and Gonzaga squaring off a half-hour after the completion of the first game. On Monday, the winners of those two teams will meet for the right to advance to the Sweet Sixteen.

Tickets for all sessions are available now through GoHuskies.com. The teams will also hold open practices on Friday, starting at Noon.

If you're interested in scouting next month's WNBA Draft, Pittsburgh guard Shavonte Zellous is a likely first-round pick. WNBA Draft Net currently has Zellous as the seventh pick by Sacramento. Zellous averaged 22.9 points per game in Big East play, but was the only Panthers player to average double-figures.

Xavier, which advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the 11th time in the last 12 seasons, is led by sophomore center Ta'Shia Phillips. Phillips was named A-10 Player of the Year after averaging 13.5 points and 11.9 rebounds per game, shooting 61.3 percent from the field. The Musketeers were 13-1 in A-10 play to win the conference regular-season crown, but were upset by Dayton in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament.

Gonzaga needs no introduction to Hec Ed, having defeated the Huskies 64-59 in Seattle in November. The Zags won the West Coast Conference tournament for the second time in three years, as well as the WCC regular-season title. Guard Courtney Vandersloot won WCC Player of the Year honors, while Heather Bowman averaged 19.5 points and 7.6 rebounds for Gonzaga, which is sure to have a healthy contingent of supporters from the Seattle area and making their way across the mountains.

Montana is returning to Seattle after losing at Hec Ed in the opening round of the 2005 NCAA Tournament, the last time the Huskies hosted a subregional. Under legendary coach Robin Selvig, now in his 31st season at the helm, the Lady Griz has made 18 trips to the NCAA Tournament. Senior guard Mandy Morales, an Arizona State recruit who transfered back home before suiting up for the Sun Devils, is the Montana player to watch. Morales averaged 17.1 points, 6.1 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game and was named Big Sky Conference MVP for the second time in three years. (In between, the award was won by 2008 Storm training-camp invitee Natalie Doma.) WNBA Draft Net has Morales going in the third round.

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